The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

New bus, same old problems: FRED bus still unreliable mode of transportation after rebrand

4 min read
bus located at local transit center

Fredericksburg buses parked at the Lawrence A. Davies Transit Center. | Wilson Jackson, The Weekly Ringer

Zoe Hanahran


The Fredericksburg Regional Transit Bus, otherwise known as the FRED Bus, is publicized as an opportunity for students lacking a vehicle on campus to travel off campus for free. Unfortunately, due to unscheduled delays, the FRED Bus is an unreliable mode of transportation that students cannot rely on, which is more of a headache than a help. 

The FRED Bus is meant to be useful for students. It is a free option for those who do not have a car or do not want to pay the $225 to $375 it costs for a parking decal on campus, according to the UMW Parking Management website. While the FRED Bus gives students a chance to travel off campus affordably, its unreliability and the threat of being stranded for hours discourage student use. 

“We tried to go to the bus stop there and wait for the bus and waited about forty-five minutes or an hour in probably twenty-degree weather, and it didn’t show up,” said sophomore applied physics and geology double major Carter Bussey. “Then we decided to move back inside so that we would be warm and stay near the door to watch for the bus.”

Bus stop located off Double Drive near campus Bell Tower. | Norah Walsh, The Weekly Ringer

In the end, he and his friends waited for a total of four hours before having to take an Uber back to campus, costing him and his friends both time and money. 

Delayed buses can turn what’s meant to be a short trip into an unplanned expense and leave riders waiting for extended periods of time in poor weather. As a result, students’ opinions on the bus are often more negative than positive, based on both firsthand experiences and word of mouth.

The FRED Bus recently underwent a rebranding effort, changing some of its buses from the typical tan color to blue with FXBGO! on the side. The website features this new logo as well. Despite this rebranding, the bus is still an inadequate and unreliable form of transportation. 

A Fredericksburg transit sign at the Lawrence A. Davies Transit Center depicts the new logo. | Wilson Jackson, The Weekly Ringer

On top of its advertised weekly routes going up places like Walmart in Central Park, the train station on Caroline Street, Princess Anne Street and Charles Street, the FRED Bus offers an extra route on weekends: the Eagle Express, which takes passengers from UMW’s main entrance to the Spotsylvania Shopping Center and back. According to the route schedule provided on its website, the bus is supposed to pick up students every half hour, looping through Central Park, the Spotsylvania Towne Center and downtown. However, the bus does not always stick to this schedule, sometimes arriving hours late or never at all. 

RouteShout 2.0 is an app advertised on the FRED Bus that shows passengers when their train will arrive, and what time it will depart. On the App Store, the app has a very poor rating of 1.6/5 stars. It does not always work, though, and it sometimes mistakenly reports that a bus is arriving when it is not. 

As the app is meant to aid riders with using the FRED Bus, faulty information like this leaves users refreshing the app only to find that they actually have to wait for the bus later than originally planned. 

Because of the bus’ inconsistency, some students are pushed to reevaluate their means of transportation around Fredericksburg. For example, Maxwell Van Vort, a sophomore computer science major, said, “I have been considering getting a car specifically because of the unreliability of the public transit system.”

Like Bussey, he “had to take an Uber back to campus at one point when a bus did not arrive.”

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that when it comes to public transportation, reliability and the length of a wait are two highly important factors. When public transportation is not dependable and waits are long, people may reduce their use of it or cease to use it altogether. 

Students who are reliant on the bus are not the only ones affected; those who have a car may also experience the impact of the delayed buses.

Senior history major Rowan Phillips owns a car on campus and says that she has had to pick up friends who have had to wait over two hours for a bus, often when it is cold outside.

“This kind of stuff is the reason that my friends tell me that they’re taking the FRED Bus somewhere in case I have to pick them up later,” Phillips said. “It seems like a generally unreliable source of transportation, which is unfortunate because a lot of people can’t afford cars and need a steady public transportation system to get them to and from their jobs and other responsibilities.”

If the buses have trouble arriving close to scheduled times, then they should be modified to reflect more accurate and reliable times. Despite the FRED Bus’s rebranding, it is still not dependable, and therefore requires more improvements to be an effective form of public transportation for the Fredericksburg community. 

A sign at the Lawrence A. Davies Transit Center in Fredericksburg. | Wilson Jackson, The Weekly Ringer